Senior Health: Emerging New Health Technologies for Seniors


Seniors in the very near future will have many new ways of tracking and reporting their health to doctors and other medical personnel. One of the most important advancements in health care during the recent decade are ‘personal data trackers’ that can help doctors monitor their patients while they are at home. These devices include portable electrocardiograms that are built into a smartphone case, as well as mobile apps and activity trackers that help keep tabs on patients and even GPS devices.

New Companies Are Often Targeting Seniors Specifically

New companies are starting up all around the company that include smart technologies like pill trackers that let caretakers and doctors know if pills have been missed, senior monitoring systems, and even mattress sensors that can measure heart and breathing, and send an alert if any problems arise.

For example, recently the medical record company Practice Fusion partnered with the manufacturers of a smartphone heart monitor (AliveCor) and an online diabetes management system (Diasend), to facilitate the integration and reporting of important medical information.

Many of these new technologies will need to get FDA clearance – a process which can sometimes take years – before they enter the market. However, others like the Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit (which work essentially like pedometers) and the Wellframe app that guides patients through a cardiac rehabilitation program — are primarily meant to foster healthful habits and are either currently available or will be soon on the market.

Some Remain Cautious About the Impact of these Technologies on Privacy Rights

However, although these technologies are impressive and very likely to become an important part of the medical landscape soon, there are some that are skeptical or caution of these new technologies. For example, many mobile apps rely on patient-generated data, which some doctors are reluctant to rely on. Some consumers are worried about privacy interests in relation to these new forms of medical reporting.  Some privacy advocates are concerned that the existing federal privacy law won’t be applicable to the growing volume of data that is now being produced by the various health devices and mobile applications. These advocates point to a need to change the existing privacy law so that it is able to incorporate these new technologies into its privacy framework.

Senior Health: Alzheimer’s Disease – Is It On The Rise?

In the United States alone, over five million people currently suffer from Alzheimer’s. Most of these Americanspensiveseniorlive at home, with their family members providing care. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association Alz.org, around 15.4 million family caregivers performed over 17.5 billion hours of care that was unpaid in 2012.

Those caring for a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s or suspected Alzheimer’s, the time and energy required will increase as their loved one’s illnesses worsens as Alzheimer’s is a challenging progressive brain disease.

Although the numbers of those with Alzheimer’s is already quite substantial, the numbers are predicted to rise. In fact, by the year 2025, that number is expected to reach a staggering 13.8 million for the United States alone. And this number does not include the increase in numbers of those suffering from early dementia that is expected during the next decade as well.

Why this huge rise? And how will it impact care giving resources and patient care in the United States?

There are various reason there will be a huge surge in the number of people experiencing Alzheimer’s disease over the next decade. One of the biggest will be an aging demographic. More and more “baby boomers” will be entering their sixties, seventies and beyond. Also, although the disease cannot be officially confirmed until after a person dies, the signs of symptoms of Alzheimer’s is better recognized now than in previous decades, and more and more individuals are being diagnosed with “Alzheimer’s like symptoms.”

Given the anticipated rise in the number of Alzheimer’s cases in the next decade, learning more about the disease and working to help find a cure to this debilitating condition is all the more pressing. The increased need for caregivers over the next decade is likely to but an increased strain on governmental health care programs as well as families and other caregivers. All Americans should take the time to educated and prepare themselves for this future.

Senior Health: Some Important Safety Features For Walk-In Bathtubs For Seniors

As a result of the increase in the number of senior citizens in the US, there has been an increase too, in the demand for walk-in bathtubs for seniors. Most manufactured bathtubs do not have the four important needed safety features, and you will need to look specifically for senior bathtub models.

The Four Important Safety Features Needed In Bathtubs For Seniors

walkinbathtubforseniorsIdeally, a senior walk-in bathtub will have an easy to open door that may be built into the side or the front of the bathtub. This will remove the need to climb over the tub and would also reduce the risk of falling too. The controls for the tub’s door should also be easy to use too without needing to exert a lot of force.

For the disabled and the elderly, rising up from a typical bathtub may be difficult even with some grab bars on the tub, since they would usually need to use most of their upper bodies’ strength to do this. So the walk-in bathtub should also have a built-in seat that can minimize the need to exert more strength/effort to rise, which can help the elderly in avoiding the possibility of getting trapped in the tub.

Older people tend to be more sensitive to changes in temperature and can be scalded if they are exposed to some very hot water. To reduce the risk of contacting a disease like Legionnaires however, bath water may generally need to be heated to some extent. A walk-in bathtub for the elderly should have an anti-scald valve in order to minimize the possibility of being scalded.

A final issue with bathtubs for seniors is the level of ease or difficulty with using their controls. The latch on the tub’s door, its faucets and drain controls should ideally be situated within some accessible distance that can be easily reached without too much effort.

Walk-in bathtubs for seniors or the disabled should ideally have or incorporate each one of these features in order to provide their users with a safe bathing experience. Fortunately, there are several senior bathtub models available online, in a wide range of prices.

Senior Health: Alarms For The Elderly Help Enable Senior Independence

neckalarmsystemHow Alarms for the Elderly Enable Extra Independence For Seniors

Nobody ever promised that getting older would be a bed of roses.  Often the most frustrating aspect of aging beyond the middle-age barrier is physical decline.  While the intellect might still remain sharp, the body can slow down significantly. Advanced medical technology and greater scientific studies into healthier habits have allowed most people to have increased longevity.  Nonetheless, there typically comes a point where most people have to struggle to complete what used to be routine daily functions.

Still, for many senior’s today, it is not a case of simply relying on family to help them. Today’s seniors can often remain independent for longer than in the past, thanks to technologies such as monitored alarms for the elderly. These innovative personal alert systems allow seniors to wear an alarm  button on a belt or wristband, so that if they encounter an emergency while they are alone, they can get assistance any time of the  night or day.

Pendant alarms for the elderly usually have distinctive identifiers so that any first response team can instantly identify its bearer. With most of these devices, emergency personnel will be able access all pertinent medical data about the alarm’s owner.  They can also call the alarm user back right away via the same unit in order to communicate with the distressed senior.  If the alarm owner cannot reach the unit, then emergency personnel can instantly notify key parties of the person’s possible distress.

The main advantage of these types of alarms is the peace of mind for the families and seniors who use them.  They facilitate sustained independent living as well as easy access to prompt and urgent assistance.

In addition, alarms for the elderly are far more cost-efficient than similar devices that are easily installed at stationery points within the home.  This does not mean, however, that in-home devices may be safely eliminated. That mainly depends on the overall physical and mental condition of the alarm user.

For those who are comparatively alert and active, however, pendant alarms afford backup protection.  This is especially important for seniors who live alone that could require emergency assistance in the event of a fall or other crisis.

Given the longer life expectancies and the desire to live healthier and more active lifestyles, monitored alarms for the elderly are often a means of prolonging independent living.

Senior Living: Choosing Senior Monitoring Systems – What You Need To Know

911 emergency phone guardian alert

911 Senior Guardian Alert System

Selecting the right type of senior monitoring systems and the best options that may be available for the elderly can help in ensuring their safety. There are different types of plans and devices that can be used for monitoring senior citizens, it is however very important to choose a plan and device that would specifically meet each individual’s needs.

Here are ten tips to help you determine what kind of senior monitoring system would be best for you or a loved one.

1. Determine The Type Of Device That Is Needed

Some of the devices that can be used as personal emergency response monitors can be attached to a wheelchair or may be worn on a belt, on the wrist or around the neck. For seniors with a risk of falling, you will need a monitoring device that can be activated without the use of phones. Most monitoring systems can be activated without phones and will typically notify a family member and/or some emergency response service on activation. You can also use a monitoring device that will let you know when a senior has the left the house etc, this will help you in determining when there is a deviation from the norm.

2. Plan For The Future As Well As The Present When Choosing a System

While a senior citizen may be able to use a device now, he/she may however not have such capabilities in a year’s time. You will therefore need a flexible contract that would allow you to modify your plan when you need to make some changes.

3. Determine How Much Coverage You Will Need

If a senior citizen enjoys doing some gardening for instance, you will need to ensure that the system/device that you select will cover the range or area that the senior is most likely to use for one or more activities.

4. Determine How Long You Will Need The Device

This may be a bit difficult to predict, of course, but ideally you should not sign up for a contract that will cover a longer period than you need.

5. Determine If The Monitoring System Is Transferable

You should also verify and confirm that your selected system and plan will continue to work even if the individual changes his/her residence or location.

6. Consider Whether You Will Need A Video Monitoring System

Sometimes a caregiver will need to monitor the individual and you need to evaluate the need for video in any monitoring system you select.

7. Consider Whether You Will Need A GPS Device

You may need a GPS tracking device too, if someone is at risk for getting lost.

8. Review The Cost Of The Contract And Set-Up Fees

You should always review carefully the set-up fee for the monitoring system you may want to use. You should also know what you are likely to be charged in case you need to cancel your contract early. You will need to know if there are any charges for false alarms too.

9. Be Sure To Compare The Prices And Features Of Different Plans In Your Area

The plans for different monitoring systems will generally vary. In the US, the Medicare program may not cover the cost of a senior monitoring system, most private insurance policies may also not cover it too, you will however need to confirm this with your insurance company.

10. Addition Important Questions To Ask

  •  Determine what their response time is.
  • Find out if they would be providing a guarantee on servicing, parts etc and if they would also be providing some technical support too.
  • Determine if the battery for your selected device is rechargeable.
  • Find out if you can get a waterproofed monitoring device.
  • Ask if they will provide you with a 24-hour and 7-days-a-week coverage.

Keep in mind that you will need to do some research on the company you would want to use in order to determine if they are a reputable senior monitoring systems provider or not.  However, given the expenses involved with some of these services, a little time spent up front will well be worth it!

Senior Health: Dental Implants For Missing Teeth

dental-implantsOne of the most common issues those of us who are over fifty-five struggle with is the loss of teeth and how to replace them. Although dentures have long been the standard method to replace lost teeth, dental implants are now becoming the preferred choice for many seniors. The advantages of dental implants are many, although they are a much more costly option. But for those looking for the look and feel of a real tooth and the ability to bite and chew foods like apples without worries, they are definitely the route to go.

Dental implants are superior to dentures because unlike the latter they actually replace the roots of teeth. This allows implants to have the look, feel and to function similarly to a natural tooth. In recent decades, millions of people have undergone dental implant surgery, and dental implants have literally revolutionized modern dentistry.

How They Work

Dental Implants are crafted from the same materials (a specially treated form of titanium) that is used for artificial knees and hip replacements, but in the case of an implant, a titanium root will be implanted into your jaw bone and used as an anchor for a crown, or in some cases, a bridge.

For a single tooth, the healing time between putting in the anchor and the crown is usually a two to three months period. Advanced CT scanning and “virtual surgery” is used by many surgeons these days to dramatically decrease the need for to graft bone. So if you were told at one time that you didn’t have enough bone for an implant, you may want to see if today that is still the case.

The loss of a tooth is a serious matter. Not only does it affect your ability to chew and even speak, but the loss of a tooth can also affect your bite, cause muscle pain in the jaws and increases the burden on existing teeth in your mouth. So if you or a friend you know wants the look and feel of real teeth to replace a missing tooth, dental implants are definitely an option to look at when considering a tooth replacement!

Senior Health: Healthy Diets for Seniors

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Time and time again we are reminded that our unhealthy diets consisting of processed foods containing high levels of sodium, sugar and fat are responsible for the ever increasing levels of obesity, diabetes and other serious health problems. While this worrying trend continues, many seem reluctant to change their eating habits and lifestyle in order to counter the obesity problem.

A balanced diet is important at any age, but particularly as we get older. As we age our bodies undergo many changes, including our metabolism. Generally speaking, one’s metabolism slows with maturity which means we are unable to burn off excess calories as we once did. Carrying additional weight can create other health related issues such as arthritis, skeletal disorders and osteoporosis. Diabetes has also been linked to obesity and is particularly common in seniors, among other age groups. Undoubtedly, a well balanced nutritious senior diet helps to avert unwelcome disorders and illnesses. Nevertheless, it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy occasional treats as long as we eat these food types in moderation.

Specific Dietary Recommendations for Seniors

You can find specific recommendations from government websites like Nutrition.gov. However, a summary of well balanced senior diet is one that includes:

  • A minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit per day- preferably fresh, although frozen fruit and vegetables are also highly nutritious.
  • A minimum of six servings of complex carbohydrates which can be found in bread, rice, cereals and pasta.
  • A minimum of 2 servings of dairy products such as cheese and milk, to provide sufficient levels of calcium.
  • At least two servings of either poultry, meat or fish for required levels of protein.
  • Plenty of fiber based products which can be found in a range of foodstuffs such as bran, other cereals, fruit and vegetables.

Ensuring that the senior diet contains of all of these foodstuffs will make certain that all the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates are included within one’s diet. A balanced diet, of course, promotes optimal health which means that many health related issues can be avoided in later life. Although sodium occurs naturally in many foodstuffs and is not necessarily harmful to health, excess amounts can lead to increased blood pressure. As such, one should avoid adding additional sodium, or salt as it is more commonly known, to meals or recipes. You can increase the flavor of meals by adding herbs and spices which may further enhance health due to some of the nutrients they contain. Any saturated fats contained within some foodstuffs are not broken down within the body in the usual way. Consequently, fatty deposits sit within the arteries and are considered to lead to health issues in the long term. Therefore, saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, diseases of the gallbladder and some types of cancer.

In contrast to a health enhancing diet, a poor diet which is lacking in essential vitamins and minerals can cause ill health and general feelings of lethargy. This is a particularly dangerous scenario for seniors, who need to take regular but gentle exercise to ensure flexibility of the joints and muscles. Seniors who cannot summon the energy to move around and take exercise are at increased risk of obesity.

A well balanced, well thought out senior diet can help individuals to enjoy their retirement years, and live a fulfilling and rewarding life. Many seniors enjoy all types of hobbies and interests because they have taken the time to care for themselves properly. Once you have considered your dietary needs it is not difficult to implement and adhere to this new lifestyle. In fact, thinking carefully about what and how you eat also introduces new experiences. Instead of eating the same old tried and tested foods it is quite possible to discover new and delicious dishes which you haven’t previously considered. Retirement is all about trying the things which you have never experienced before. Who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Senior Health: Preventing Slips and Falls

trippingSlips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury and deaths among the elderly, and unfortunately many of these accidents are preventable.

Of course, not only the elderly suffer from falling accidents as these can happen at any age. However, the elderly are certainly at a higher risk. In fact, each year, the CDC reports that 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 65 will experience a fall.  In 2010, the CDC reported over 2.3 million injuries from nonfatal falls occurring in older adults that required emergency room treatment.

Given these statistics, responsible seniors know that it is best to take preventative actions before such accidents occur. As we age, the risk of these accidents increase. While many people might experience a cut or bruise from a fall, the elderly are at risk for injuries that are much more serious, such as head injuries, hip fractures or even death. In fact, not only does the risk of falling increase, but the risk of suffering a serious injury as a result of a fall also increases and can lead to many elderly individuals becoming dependent on long-term care, hospitalization or in-home care.

In addition to the costs for medical care and rehabilitation, these injuries can significantly limit or eliminate an elderly individuals independence or mobility. As you strive to provide a safe environment for you or someone you love, to age in place, the importance of reducing the risk of serious falls and preventing accidents is essential.

Whether you want to make sure a loved one is safe or to ensure your home is as safe as possible for yourself, identifying potential dangers is an important step in minimizing the risk for falls.

Environmental Hazards

There are many occurrences of slip & fall accidents that could potentially be prevented. Things, such as removing rugs from the floor, replacing light bulbs that have burnt out, especially in walkways and hallways, as well as picking up objects left on the stairs, can all contribute to a safer environment for seniors. Pay particular attention to bathrooms and stairways as these are areas that are especially prone to slip and fall accidents.

Other factors that can contribute to falls include spills or floors with wet areas, such as by a door, especially in inclement weather when rain and snow can leave the floor slippery. The kitchen and bathroom floors are also very susceptible to becoming slippery due to spills. It is important that all liquids are promptly wiped off the floor. Every home has environmental hazards; however, there are also numerous ways that these accidents can be prevented.

Health Problems

Many medical conditions or physical problems can contribute to a higher likelihood of the elderly succumbing to falls. Changes that come with age, such as muscle weakness, deteriorating eye sight and balance problems can all increase the danger of a fall at home. Good lighting, picking up clutter and sturdy handrails can help reduce the occurrence of slip and fall accidents among seniors. Installing chair lifts for stairs may help those who live in homes with stairs, as these present a significant falling risk.

The CDC reports that many falls, approximately 20% – 30%, result in injuries that are either moderate to severe. However, there are some health problems that can increase the likelihood of a fall, as well as increase the level of injury when a fall does occur. Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and dementia can not only increase the risk of slip & fall accidents among seniors, but an elderly individual with these conditions will also be much more likely to suffer injuries that are serious, including death.

Medication Issues

There are many medications that include side effects like confusion, drowsiness or dizziness, all of which could increase the likelihood of a fall. The National Institute on Aging reports that the more medications an individual takes, the higher their chances of experiencing a fall. Starting a new type of medication or taking four or more prescription medications can also increase a persons risk of experiencing a fall. If you feel unsteady or dizzy, be sure to discuss this with your physician.

Additionally, checking drug interactions is extremely important, especially if you take multiple medications. Seniors should always speak with their doctor about any new medications, including over the counter medicines they may be taking.

Finally, an elderly person who has experienced a fall might develop a fear that they will fall again. If this occurs, it is essential that they be helped to readjust into their home environment and take measures to safeguard their home in order to prevent future falls. You can also discuss with the individual or their doctor other steps you can take in order to minimize the risks for slip & fall accidents.

What If You Fall?

Anyone who has experienced a fall should seek immediate help for any injuries. However, even if you are not seriously injured from a fall, you should speak with your doctor in order to rule out any new medical problems that may be contributing to balance issues. However, it is also very important that you do what you can to prevent falls from happening in the first place!